In a few months your graduates will be off to college – a whole new world complete with dorm room (or apartment), rent, and responsibility.
Plan now to meet your seniors (suddenly back at the bottom of the totem pole) wherever they end up (even if it’s still in the same town!)
1. Sometime over the summer, write a personal letter (not e-mail, not text, not Facebook) letting the senior know how much you care about them. When possible, include personal stories from your years together. And close with a blessing or encouragement. They will read it – they will keep it – and many of them will hang it in their new abode!
2. Sometime a few weeks before they leave home, give them something tangible and offer a time to talk. Take by a box of homemade cookies or even a roll of quarters (they’ll need it for the laundry room) and give them a chance to share excitement…and trepidation.
3. As they get ready to take flight, get their new address from mom or dad (on the DL). Send a ‘welcome’ card or gift. Be sure to include a Bible verse about having courage or never walking alone.
They may have graduated high school, but they have not graduated your influence. Don’t miss the opportunity to continue speaking truth, hope, and love as they go off on a new adventure. It’ll insure you hold that role for a lifetime.
Two weeks ago we highlighted ways to honor seniors as they leave the nest. A senior send-off is a great way for a church to speak blessing into the lives of out-going seniors…as long as it doesn’t roll-over into senior worship.
But invariably, there are seniors who are sending us personal invites to graduation, parties, and all the festivities that surround their accomplishments. So what’s a good youth worker to do?
A) Go to as many graduations as you can. Depending on the size and number of high schools you serve, chances are the family may not even know you were there. So take a photo when your student walks the stage and send a copy with a personal note of congratulations! “Great to see the culmination of all your hard work!! –something personal and witty inserted here– Always your youth pastor, Darren”
B) It’s OK not to attend every graduation party you’re invited to – but if you attend some, you must acknowledge all. So attend the ones you can (or want to) – and the ones you miss, send a note of regret that you couldn’t make it and appreciation for being thought of during such a momentous occasion. If you serve multiple high schools, you may choose to attend certain graduations – and rotate that with the parties you attend. (i.e. If I attend Carroll High School’s graduation ceremony, I’ll make sure to attend the party of a student who attends King High School.) Baccalaureate – if your school system offers it – is another way to hit as many celebrations as possible.
C) Gifts. Right….which youth pastor has this in their personal budget!!? Usually the church budget buys gifts for all graduates. Don’t fret if you cannot work this into your budget. But IF you choose to personally buy gifts for specific seniors (and not all of them), make the presentation private and personal. Sometimes the best way to do this is with a gift as they leave for college – or something that you mail ahead of them, to greet their arrival wherever they’re going.
It’s OK for you to be personal with your seniors. You’ve invested years in relationship with them. Celebrate with them as their friend and youth pastor – not just their ‘church-designated representative.’